Laser Hair Reduction
in Washington D.C.
Using the most advanced laser technology, this treatment is targeted at reducing unwanted hair growth in most skin types. Here at West End Plastic Surgery, we use 2 different types of lasers, the Cutera Cool Glide and the Lumenis LightSheer Duet.
The Cutera CoolGlide is an Nd: YAG laser hair reduction system all skin types and tones, from light to dark. Its unique design, longer wavelength, and innovative cooling design allow extremely effective, safe, and permanent results.
LightSheer Diode Laser Systems are clinically proven and highly regarded for providing safety, superior results, and patient satisfaction. With 2 different leaser heads, we are able to attack those stubborn unwanted hairs with speed and comfort.
Who is an ideal candidate for laser hair reduction?
We all have unwanted hair somewhere on our bodies, so pretty much everyone could benefit from laser hair reduction at West End Plastic Surgery. Whether you’re a woman tired of the tedium of shaving your legs or bikini line, or a man looking to get rid of back hair or that arm sweater, it’s rewarding to reduce the unwanted hair permanently.
The best candidates for laser hair reduction have a sharp contrast between the color of their unwanted hair and their skin tone. This makes it easy for the laser wavelength to be set to the hair color and to distinguish it from the skin pigment. People with light blond or grey hair have less melanin in their hair, so it is more difficult to target it with laser energy. Plus, the laser pulses have to be shorter to protect the skin.
Because we use two different types of lasers for hair reduction at West End, these issues aren’t as much of a problem for our patients.
How is Laser Hair Reduction Performed?
The key to stopping hair from growing is the hair follicle. Destroy or disable the hair follicle and it will no longer produce hair. That’s what laser hair removal does.
When you come to our beautiful offices on M Street for laser hair reduction, we start by applying topical numbing cream across the areas to be treated. This usually takes about 30 minutes to fully take effect. Next, we set either our Cutera Cool Glide laser or our Lumenis LightSheer Duet laser (your skin tone and type dictate the best option) to match the wavelength of the melanin in your hair. Melanin is what gives our hair (and our skin) it's color. We then direct short pulses of laser energy onto the treatment area. The melanin absorbs the laser light energy and it converts to heat. This heat travels down the hair shaft into the hair follicle, damaging or destroying the follicle and preventing future hair growth.
Pre and Post Treatment Instructions
Before your Laser Hair Reduction treatment, please be sure to follow these steps:
- For at least 3 weeks immediately prior to your first treatment, and during the remainder of your treatment package, please do not wax, tweeze, use depilatories, undergo electrolysis, or bleach the hair you are seeking to remove.
- Please shave the morning of or the night before your appointment. Men should come to an appointment with the closest possible shave.
- Please inform users as soon as possible in advance of your treatment if you are taking any antibiotics.
- Please do not use any products containing Alpha or Beta Hydroxyl acids, Retinol, or Retin A for at least 3-5 days prior to your treatments.
- It is recommended that patients have NO sun exposure (including tanning beds and sunless tanners) for 4-6 weeks prior to treatment. When out in the sun please wear sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. If you are unsure please feel free to ask a team member.
- If you have had sun exposure or have been tanning within the last 2 weeks, please call the office at (202) 750-5189 24 hours prior to treatment to avoid a cancellation fee.
- If you have a history of herpes in the area to be treated, we strongly recommend you take a prescribed anti-viral medication to decrease the risk of an outbreak after the treatment. We would be happy to provide you with a prescription, just ask one of our team members.
- In the days leading up to your treatment please try to keep well hydrated as hydrated skin is able to tolerate more light energy, making your treatments safer, but also more effective.
After your laser hair reduction treatment:
- Your skin may look completely normal, but some individuals it may look red and feel warm. This is normal and will subside of the next few hours.
- You should not feel any significant discomfort, heat, or pain. If you do, place a cool cloth or gel ice pack on the area, and continue to cool until the heat sensation subsides. Please call us if heat is significant or unrelenting.
- You may use an antihistamine cream (i.e. hydrocortisone 1%) should any itching occur. This may be immediate and could last up to 7 days.
- Please avoid excessive sun exposure for 2 weeks after treatment. Please use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher during the entire course of your treatment.
- Avoid hot water for 24 hours after treatment.
- Avoid all astringents and irritants (toners, glycolic, retinol, etc.) for the remainder of the day.
How successful is laser hair reduction?
As mentioned above, each of our hairs can be in one of the three phases of the hair growth cycle: growth, transition, or rest. Unfortunately, laser energy is only effective on hair in the growth phase because these hairs are still actively anchored in the hair follicle. Hair that is in either the transition or resting phases is in the process of being shed, so energy can’t travel down the hair shaft into the follicle. When you think of the number of unwanted hairs you’re seeking to target, catching each unwanted hair in the growth phase isn’t easy.
Second, damaged follicles can rebuild sometimes with hormonal changes, and partially damaged follicles can heal and begin to grow hair again.
So, how much hair can you permanently get rid of? It’s from 85 to 90 percent in the treatment areas. That’s why the FDA approved lasers for what it calls “laser hair reduction.”
Are laser hair reduction results permanent?
The question of whether a targeted hair follicle is permanently destroyed and unable to grow hair in the future is typically one of the degree of damage. When the laser light energy is delivered down onto the unwanted hair, the melanin in the hair shaft absorbs the light energy and it instantly converts to heat. This heat travels down the hair shaft into the hair follicle where it is anchored. If the hair is fully anchored in the follicle and in the midst of the growth phase, the heat should destroy or heavily damage the follicle. This will prevent it from growing hair in the future.
But each of the five million hairs on the human body operates independently and moves in and out of the three phases of the hair growth cycle: growth, transition, and rest. So, some of the hairs won’t be fully anchored in the follicle, as they will be in the transition phase toward being shed. Others will be in the resting phase, and these are not affected at all by the laser energy.
Plus, hormonal changes can trigger some damaged hair follicles to recover and begin growing hair again.
Bottom line? Patients can achieve from 85-90 percent permanent reduction in hair growth. A yearly maintenance session or two is a good idea to keep damaged follicles from returning to growth.
Is laser hair reduction safe?
Laser hair removal has proven to be reliable, effective, and safe. Lasers have been used for laser hair removal for almost 30 years, and the process was extensively tested prior to becoming commercially available. The most common side effects after treatment include skin irritation, such as redness and slight swelling on the treatment sites. This usually passes within a few hours.
Is laser hair reduction painful?
At West End Plastic Surgery, we apply topical numbing cream before all of our laser hair reduction sessions, so patients stay comfortable. Also, our Cool Glide laser features a proprietary cooling design that further enhances comfort. You can expect the sensation of a small rubber band being snapped lightly against the skin with the delivery of each laser pulse. This will immediately be followed by a cooling sensation.
Schedule Your Consultation
If you're interested in learning more about laser hair reduction please contact us for a consultation at 202-785-4187 or fill out our contact us form below. We will discuss your needs and concerns, and determine your best course of action.